JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - Carson-Newman (17-4, 10-3 SAC) will try to sweep Newberry (10-11, 6-7 SAC) for the first time since 2009-10 when it travels to Eleazer Arena for a Saturday afternoon tip with the Wolves.
Newberry still boasts the highest octane offense in the league, averaging 89.5 points per game. That's 10 points higher than the next closest team. The Eagles beat the Wolves in the first meeting between the schools 98-76 behind torrid 54 percent shooting and lockdown defense that then kept the Wolves 20 points below their average.
"Our guys know the scheme, expectations and standards at this time," Carson-Newman head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson said. "There are a lot of little subtle things that you do in that matchup zone. The only way you get better at that is time and experience. We're starting to come together at the right time."
Carson-Newman will need that defense to continue. The Eagles have held four consecutive opponents under 60 points and haven't given up more than 70 on this six-game winning streak.
"Our guys are very hungry right now with five games to go," Benson said. "Like most teams at this point in the year, you're facing the adversity of sickness and fatigue. We're trying to encourage our kids to handle the February blues that may come."
Ish Sanders (Cleveland, Tenn.) sits 21 points away from entering the top 10 among Carson-Newman's all-time leading scorers. Sanders has 1,239 points for his career. Todd Lucas, who scored 1,260 from 2000-03, sits in front of him.
"That's not a big deal to him and it doesn't impact him on a day-to-day basis," Benson said. "He is a very humble, but he's also very confident. Maybe one of these days he'll look back and have a sense of pride and accomplishment."
Sanders went for 20 in the first meeting between the schools. He sank six of his nine shots, including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.
Antoine Davis (Rustburg, Va.) finished with 27, 21 of which came from three-point land.
In the first meeting, Newberry came into the game with six players averaging double figures. Carson-Newman allowed three to crack double digits. Brandon Riley grabbed the team high with 16, while C-N limited Quayshun Hawkins to a 13-point night. Preseason first team all-conference selection Dondray Walker had seven, half of his average. Now the Wolves have four double-digit scorers, plus two more who are five tenths of a point away from joining that group.
The Eagles and Wolves tip at 4 p.m. Saturday. Pregame coverage begins 15 minutes prior to tip with the Farm Bureau Countdown to Tipoff on the Coca-Cola Eagle Sports Network on ESPN Radio 106.3 The Zone (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com.